(b. 1632, Delft, d. 1675, Delft)
Diana and her Companions1655-56
Oil on canvas, 98,5 x 105 cm
Mauritshuis, The Hague
Signature: Indistinctly signed(?) lower left on rock (J. v. Meer; highly unusual for the Delft Vermeer).
Provenance: This painting first turned up at the Dirksen art gallery in The Hague, and was sold to N. D. Goldsmid for fl 175; sale Goldsmid, Paris (Drouot), 4 May 1876, no. 68 as by Nicolaes Maes. There bought by the state of the Netherlands for the Mauritshuis for 10,000 French francs. In 1883, cataloged as "perhaps by Johannes Vermeer." Then again as N. Maes, later as Jan Vermeer van Utrecht, and now as Vermeer van Delft (since ca. 1901, date of discovery of the Edinburgh picture). The Maes signature was a forgery. The Vermeer signature is now only dimly visible.
Possible attributions: Jan Vermeer van Utrecht; Anthonie Palamedesz.
The artist must have been deeply aware of the great tradition of the theme, the most famous painting being by Titian and the version based on Titian's by Rubens. Prints were in circulation at the time, so the artist might have seen them for example.